The Wake Forest basketball program officially released its non-conference schedule on Tuesday. How challenging is the schedule? Let's take a look at who the Demon Deacons will be taking on in Danny Manning's third season on the sidelines in Winston-Salem.
Our non-conference finale is Dec. 22 as LSU makes its first-ever trip to Winston-Salem. pic.twitter.com/Aw4WYPGGX4— Wake Basketball (@TieDyeNation) June 14, 2016
Wake Forest begins the season with Radford, who went 16-15 last season and finished 234th in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. The Highlanders lose the starting backcourt of Rashun Davis and Cameron Jones, so this should be a win on opening night.
The Deacs will then take on Bucknell, who Wake Forest knocked off 90-82 last season in Lewisburg. They finished last season ranked 170th in Ken Pom, but they also lose Chris Hass, who is a versatile wing. This game will take place just two days after the contest against Radford, but the Deacs should be 2-0 after this contest.
Wake will then begin play in the Charleston Classic. The 2016 field also consists of Villanova (they were pretty good last year), Boise State, College of Charleston, Mississippi State, UCF, UTEP, and Western Michigan. Hopefully Wake Forest can avoid an opening round matchup against Villanova. Either way, Wake has a very good chance to go 2-1 in this tournament.
The Deacs will host Coastal Carolina on November 23rd. Wake Forest beat them 83-77 last season, and the Chanticleers finished the season ranked 177th in Ken Pom. Wake hits the road on November 28th when they take on Northwestern as part of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. The Wildcats lose two key contributors in Alex Olah and Tre Demps, but they will still be a formidable opponent. This will be a great test for Wake, and will be a measuring stick game.
The Demon Deacons will travel to Richmond on December 3rd to take on the Richmond Spiders, who defeated Wake Forest by 9 points in Winston-Salem this past season. The last time the Deacs played in Richmond, they mounted an excellent last-minute comeback and knocked off Richmond at the buzzer. The Spiders lose Terry Allen, but this will also be a tough game.
Wake Forest will then take on some local opponents over its next two contests when they host Charlotte and travel to UNC Greensboro. Wake should most definitely win those two games.
On December 17th, the Deacs will travel to Ohio to take on Xavier in the Skip Prosser Classic. Xavier mounted a magnificent second half comeback last season to knock off the Deacs. The Musketeers earned a two seed in last year's NCAA Tournament, and returns a large percentage of its production. This game will probably be Wake's toughest of the non-conference schedule.
Wake will conclude the non-conference portion of its schedule on December 22nd when they host LSU. Wake knocked off LSU last season in Baton Rouge, and the Tigers also lose Ben Simmons, who will likely be the number one pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Wake should be favored in this contest.
Wake's non-conference schedule is certainly far more manageable than last year's. At this point, I think 9-3 is a reasonable expectation. What do you all think of the schedule?